July 15, 2015 Leave a comment
July 9, 2015 Leave a comment
VFX Expert Srinivas Mohan has an enviable repertoire of films, known for their grand use of visual effects, to his credit. Be it Superstar Rajnikanth’s robot look in Enthiran (Robot) or the impressive effects in Shankar’s I, the National Award-winning artist has been instrumental in taking Indian VFX to the next level.
In a tete-a-tete with Pandolin, the expert talks about creating a larger than life waterfall, putting together a grandiose battle sequence and much more for one of India’s grandest films, the highly-awaited period drama, Baahubali….
Read full article here
June 23, 2015 Leave a comment
Vadlamudi Srinivas Murali Mohan is a three-time National Film Awards winner for his work in Visual Effects. This Vijayawada-born Telugu-speaking gentleman is known to be extremely patient, understanding and amiable. He left Vijayawada in 97 and has ever since been working on Tamil movies. Married to an Anglo Indian, he settled in Chennai. This is the first time he is working in a Telugu film (Baahubali). Cont..
January 19, 2015 Leave a comment
Two long decades in an industry that is only gaining ground now, with importance and acceptance coming slowly, but this man already has three national awards to show for his work. Having spent nearly two decades in the VFX industry in the country, he has been one of the crucial blocks in building this nascent but vital industry. Indian Artists Computer Graphics CEO Srinivas Mohan has attempted challenging projects such as ‘Enthiran’ (‘Robot’) and ‘Sivaji’ in the past.
His latest outing brings has him taking his art a level higher with not just supervising the VFX but also assisting in the special make up that was required for the recently released movie ‘I’ (Ai) directed by the acclaimed personality Shankar. Shot at exquisite locations in China, the revenge movie has stunning visual effects and make up done by international houses Rising Sun Pictures and Weta Workshop respectively.
In an exclusive interaction with AnimationXpress.com’s Sidharth Iyer and Vishaka Chakrapani, Srinivas sheds light on the making of the movie ‘I’, the various VFX houses involved in the process, the special make up required for the movie and the challenges that came in the way.
You have been associated with many of Shankar’s earlier films. How was it working with him once again for the movie ‘I’?
It was great working with him again because he is a guru in the VFX industry. He not only encourages VFX but also gives it a lot of priority and he knows it can be used well to enhance its grandeur. Shankar is very clear of what he wants and especially in the VFX industry, it is necessary to have clarity from the director. So after he locks the story, he never changes it, this helps me in working freely and also try getting good quality of effects for the movie.
How did the story evolve and what were your inputs in executing it?
He told me this hunchback story 10 years ago. What first struck me was that special make up would be a crucial element. I suggested Weta Workshop to him, but due to their packed schedule, it took Weta nearly six months to agree on the project after several meetings.
Although I needn’t have done that as a VFX supervisor, I was able to help for the requirement. That is one big input in the film.
The Mersalaayitten (Issak Taari) song VFX was done by Rising Sun Pictures (RSP). The first thought was to express Vikram’s love for Amy by making him visualise her in even inanimate objects. We didn’t want the transformations to resemble those ofTransformers (which is an easy parallel to draw). The main difference is that in this song the transitions are mechanical to organic while in that it is mechanical to mechanical. We took Amy to Australia and scanned her for the scenes and used Maya for textures.
The scene where Amy becomes a fish will also drive people to think of the similarity with ‘Mystique’ from the X-Men series. In the song where Amy also takes form from sprouts, we tried to bring her up from them straight but it didn’t seem to work out; so we requested the choreographer to help in getting some spiral transformation, which looks great in the final movie.
In the same song, there is a portion where Amy takes form from the water at a ‘Dhobi Ghat’ where the transformation is entirely computer generated (CG) and so is the foam that covers her body. It took a lot of time to get the shade on the foam right as well.
What were the inputs provided by the various VFX houses?
RSP has done eight shots in the song mentioned earlier. Initially we had a discussion on the need for such expensive transitions, but I insisted on them because without the transition, it would have looked like she is wearing a costume which wouldn’t have really worked for the amazement that we wanted people to experience.
Certain scenes were pre-planned such as the Mersalaayitten song, the bee sequence, electric shock scene and the wings in the ‘Beast song’. The body hair part was attempted as special make up by Weta but they couldn’t give a lot of time for it. So it was 50 per cent real and 50 per cent CGI.
Apart from the song, the Honey Bee sequence was executed by Rhythm & Hues (Hyderabad), who also helped out with the climax scene of the wide-angle flowers that were in CG. The exterior of the house where Amy is taken after being kidnapped is also done using CG, along with the bridge and a few other shots which were delivered by FutureWorks.
The set extension for the ‘Beast song’, fire enhancement and the end shot of Upen Patel being electrocuted on top of the train was delivered by Prasad EFX, who have done over 50 per cent of the movie in all.
Other studios that contributed to the project were: Criya – wings, hair enhancement; Makuta worked on the bloated lips and the spread of the virus shots apart from the hair growing scene; Firefly helped out with some of the train electric shock shots and a few lip sequence shots; Creative Art Concepts worked on the effects for the song ‘Ladio’ and a few climax flowers in CG and finally the roof top bicycle fight sequence was done by Lorven Studios in CG.
How many VFX shots were used in the movie?
About 1000 VFX shots were executed – which include the eight shots of transition, 25 to 30 shots on the honeybee sequence, 40 shots on the electric train and over 50 shots on the ‘Beast song’ – these were the major sequences in the film that require mentions.
For the kidnapping house, we had a theme park where the water body existed without a bridge and we arranged for a wooden bridge to get the right lighting and then created a CG bridge and building while we shot only with trees. The ‘Aila’ song has a sequence shot against a European background which has actually been done against green screen.
At the China location, the entire background is done in CG to enhance the flowers and the colours. When we went to shoot, there weren’t any flowers, so we shot with green background and then we replaced that with flowers. The climax scene also had no flowers on location, but we added them in post.
What were the challenges with the fight sequences?
Our main challenge was to remove the rigs. The entire roof top fight scene in China was entirely recreated and enhanced using CG. We placed a simple texture on plain flat surfaces on which they performed all the stunts and then we took care of the rest in post.
The similar technique of clearing the rigs was also used for the scene where we see Vikram fighting off the goons during the Mr Tamil Nadu competition in the earlier half of the movie.
How many days were spent in shooting for the major VFX sequences and adding the post production effects to them? Were you able to meet the deadlines?
There are two parts for the whole movie – planned and unplanned shots. The flowers and roof top shots weren’t planned when we commenced the project, but only developed in the process as we thought it would add a whole new dimension to the scene. The planned ones were done on time and were much easily executed because of the strong previz and storyboard understanding that we already had in place. In all about 400 people have touched this film in some way or the other, and the shoot took five months on location, whereas the pre-production took a year and the VFX work took just under eight months.
How was the experience of associating with Weta Workshop? What were the challenges they faced?
Working with Weta is a great experience because they are clear on what they can do and what they can deliver.
From the very beginning they were clear of the things they needed from us and what they can deliver. They are one of the best professionals I have seen.
Makeup wise, the ‘Beast’ song took five hours to apply and two-three hours to remove. The major challenge they faced was the weather condition. Whatever they have done earlier have been in colder temperature. So when they came here, they had a lot of issues due to the make-up material notwithstanding the extreme conditions. So they had to take some assistance from local makeup artists in terms of getting some of the material locally to suit their requirements.
The beast song was shot in Chennai in Prasad studios for 15 days. We didn’t get a big set. So all the floors we had here weren’t enough. The art director Nick Pill took an empty place and made a realistic set with seven cranes. He created an entire floor just for the set. It’s a huge set.
On location they required one AC box constantly to keep the makeup intact, and after every take the actors had to rush to the AC box just to ensure they don’t spoil the make-up. They adapted a lot because of this condition and did an extraordinary job on the movie, which I guess is out there for everyone to witness.
August 3, 2013 1 Comment
Renowned in India as VFX Supervisor and CEO, Srinivas Mohan comes with 15 years of industry experience and a handful of awards. He is also an essential member of the VFX Advisory Board for Animation Mentor. We caught up with Mohan to talk VFX in India, hiring, and tips for junior artists.
-The Animation Mentor Crew
What inspired you to get into visual effects?
Mohan: During my childhood I loved watching Indian mythological and effects based regional films like Jaganmohini, Mayabazar etc. James Cameron’s “The Abyss” made a big impact in my life. I admired it so much that I watched it more than 20 times in the theater. It was like magic……water coming to life….taking the shape of a girl face….it was fascinating. Much later, while I was working as a software programmer, I saw my competitor working on a logo animation for his software launch. I challenged myself to animate a logo for my software launch. I got to know about “3D Studio – v4”, played around with it for a few days and animated a logo for the software SAM (Share Accounting Manager). My animation career started from there. Initially I did titles for wedding videos and then moved on to film title sequences, advertisements, television, and finally to feature films. I made the transition from 3D artist to visual effects supervisor in a span of 10 years. In this journey I have had many great moments and wonderful experiences. The best part is, my passion became my career.
What do you look for in new hires as a VFX Supervisor?
Mohan:In the current filmmaking scenario the VFX supervisor’s role is as important as the Director, DOP, Production designer, Editor etc., So, more than the knowledge of VFX tools and techniques, aspirants should have a good grasp of the entire filmmaking process. Along with creativity and technical knowledge, they should also have good problem-solving skills. Many unpredicted problems will arise in production and they should be capable of handling those situations. Good communication skills will help solve these issues. In India, most of the visual effects supervisors have to play the additional role of VFX producer as well. So, aspirants need to know about budget and production-related tasks as well.
As a VFX Supervisor, what was the hardest project you worked on and why?
Mohan:“Enthiran – The Robot” was one of the hardest projects as VFX Supervisor and VFX Producer. It was India’s first film with 2500 visual effects shots and it was India’s most expensive film as well. A lot was expected of me and my responsibility was huge. I needed to deliver high quality within an Indian budget! In order to save time and money, I introduced a few steps to the Indian VFX industry like Previz, Animatronics etc. To avoid usage of motion control rig, I brought back few old techniques which were used in the optical days, like using click sounds for matching both the layer trolley and camera movements. I used an entirely new technology like “Light Stage Scanning” for photo realistic digital face and developed a skin shader plug-in for Maya called “Jupiter Skin”. Thanks to Paul Debevec for great help. For the first time, on this project, I used many international studios for post-production work and had to face issues based on work culture. Eventually, the team effort paid off and we got a lot of recognition and awards.
What tips do you have for junior artists who want to work in visual effects in India?
Mohan:The main aim of visual effects is to make things believable. As an artists we take things that are impossible and make it realistic. In order to make things seem plausible you need to have artistic talent. Also, you have to learn the concepts applied behind creating a shot and not just how to operate the tools. A great visual effects artist should have knowledge pertaining to the overall techniques required for making a film. It is essential that the artist is creative, not just a person who has been trained to use sophisticated software tools. As I mentioned previously, we are a part of the storytelling process, we create or manipulate emotional content and we need to understand the emotional content of each frame.
Are you an aspiring VFX artist? Get started in our visual effects classes.
July 27, 2013 Leave a comment
Visual effects designing was not a product of digital era but had been used in film industry for decades in different forms and techniques, award winning designer V Srinivas Mohan said here today.
“Visual effects is not a new thing. It had been used in different ways in many movies decades before. We had once done such effects manually, but now we do it digitally,” he said during a seminar on “The Magic of VEX film Making”, organised by the Animation, Infotainment and Media School (AIMS) here.
“Everything is overall the same at the concept level. Only medium and techniques have changed,” he said.
Mohan, who has been in the industry for the last 15 years, is the brain behind the much acclaimed visual effects in blockbuster movies like “Endhiran, the Robot” and “Shivaji”. He also won a number of recognitions including the National Awards for the Rajnikath-starrer movies.
Elaborating on the technical details of the visual effects, he said every visual designer is like a music composer or magician who creates an entirely novel thing using a handful of tools and techniques. A successful visual effects designer would know every detail of film making including the characterisation and background of the story, he said.
“Just doing your job or applying theories correctly would not help anybody to become a good visual designer. Otherwise, he has to observe and try to know every aspect of cinema like a director,” Mohan added.
July 1, 2013 Leave a comment
Check out my casual talk on Mattrran Vfx at Film production Talk blog (FPT)
Thanks to Varun for taking efforts to improving Indian Vfx industry.
It was around 55 min lengthy talk and below are time breakdown details
starts with “Maattrran” film and story and main Vfx starts @ 7:50 min
@ 7:50 min about Mattran VFX
@ 17:30 min about Surya sir
@ 37:30 min about Rat sequence and Firefly
@ 39:35 min about Shankar sir “i”
@ 41:00 min about Rajamouli sir “Bahubali” & “Eega”
@ 43:10 min about Indian Vfx
March 26, 2013 Leave a comment
Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’, a visually stunning 3D tale of an Indian boy adrift in the ocean for months with a Bengal tiger, won critical and commercial acclaim across the board. The film received several accolades including 4 wins at the 85th Academy Awards which included Best Director, Original Score, Cinematography and Visual Effects. While several feel that the film truly deserves all the honors there are some who think otherwise, primarily for the best cinematography.
This has sparked off a debate amongst the film fraternity on whether ‘Life of Pi‘ actually deserved the Oscar for Best Cinematography when it largely is a film driven by visual effects. There is also a section which feels that the acceptance speech of the Life of Pi Visual Effects Team winners, who spoke about the threat facing the VFX industry, was blatantly cut off to suppress larger issues.
The debate has also found voice amongst Indian filmmakers. Pandolin spoke to two such renowned artists, CinematographerRavi K Chandran and Visual Effects Designer V.Srinivas Mohan on their thoughts on this issue. Their valuable opinions present two interesting sides to this debate.
“Our government still sees us as technicians and are not providing good education, good provisions for local films, local creations. They still depend on people from abroad,” V. Srinivas Mohan
For example, almost 80 per cent of the animation content that we see on Cartoon Network is from abroad. If the government uses some kind of a clause that states that every day each channel should air atleast 30 minutes of content created by Indian companies, it will help in a big way. This is one of the ideas I thought of. They rely on content from abroad mainly because the content there is very cheap. But we have a lot of good talent that the channels can use. The Government needs to recognize our talent instead of outsourcing the job. We have outsourced a lot, have good knowledge of how Hollywood works, now India should focus on its artists here and provide good facilities, reduce taxes, give subsidies to local animation films etc.”
Continue……. Full article @ http://pandolin.com/deserving-or-not-the-debate-on-life-of-pis-oscar/